1. Great Barrier Reef under Threat!
    The Great Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world and as the largest coral reef ecosystem is known for being one of the most richest and complex natural systems on Earth (GBRMPA, 2014). Despite the 1.6 million visitors attracted each year, the $6 billion contributed to the tourism industry and the 60,000 jobs it supports, the Reef is currently under threat from the implementation of the policy, Queensland Ports Strategy (Department of Environment, 2014). The Government plans for rapid widespread industrial mega-port developments set to dredge and dump millions of tonnes of seabed and rock, causing irreversible and persistent damage to the Reef (AMCS, 2014).
    The introduction of this policy puts at risk decades of environmental reform and marine life conservation for the purpose of economic development, setting the standard for how future port developments will occur across the rest of Queensland (Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, 2014). Currently, marine management systems lack integration among government systems significantly impeding the design and delivery of effective policies and programs to maintain healthy and productive marine ecosystems and oceans (Department of the Environment, 2011). An integrated national system of multilevel governance for conservation and management would enable the natural wealth of the Reef to be maintained and thus increase economic returns (Department of the Environment, 2011). Despite this, the Abbott Government is still approving the policy that will result in 5 million tonnes of dredge spoil to be dumped in the World Heritage Area (Getup, 2014). This policy makes a mockery of the government’s claims to be protecting the Reef. Despite, two years of development the strategy is nothing more than a business approach that will cause both direct and indirect harm to the health and future of over 3000 habitats and species of animals (AMCS, 2014).
    The government is placing the Reef under an accelerated threat by dismantling the laws and processes in place that protect it (AMCS, 2014). Unsurprisingly, there are no clear strategies or actions ensuring the protection or reversing the decline in the health of the Reef (AMCS, 2014; UNESCO, 2014). Despite the Reef already being irreversibly damaged by climate change (Bureau of Meteorology, 2014), the government is failing to do more to protect it (Getup, 2014). As this political strategy it will not stop a single port development or dredging proposal planned for the Queensland coast (Getup, 2014; UNESCO, 2014), it will lead to an increase in shipping traffic and anchoring, an heightened risk of oil spills and shipping accidents, pollution from port waste, increases in CO2 emissions, degradation of water quality, wide spread damage and cumulative loss of species and habitat, and loss of tourism and jobs reliant on the tourism industry, all due to a lack of mandated legal protection of the World Heritage Area (Bureau of Meteorology, 2014; Department of Environment, 2011; Getup, 2014, AMCS, 2014; UNESCO, 2014). Consequently, this limited protection has the potential for corruption, leading to decreases in environmental protections, fewer public servants monitoring environmental impacts, and less restriction on mining companies and the development of new and existing ports (AMCS, 2014).
    With narrow-sighted political strategies such as this one, the opportunity to grow as an economy, create employment, maintain and improve the health of our environmental assets in conjunction with each other could become impossible. In today’s society, there should not be a competitive trade-off between environmental outcomes, economic growth and industry development, especially not at the expense of one of the world’s most iconic culturally significant natural wonders. (GBRMPA, 2014). Once again, the Queensland Government has shown the community they cannot be trusted, especially in terms of environmental protection and natural sustainability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *